Wednesday 19 September 2018 - People's Vote

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Morning Briefing: Roadmap to a People's Vote - car chaos - we need to end air pollution

Some people think it’s impossible to get a People’s Vote because Theresa May has ruled one out. This is not so. MPs will have many ways to give the people a final say at the end of the Brexit talks if that’s what they want, according to a report written by Lord Kerr, the former civil servant who helped write Article 50, with input from a range of constitutional and legal experts, as well as politicians in the UK and Europe.

If MPs decide to give voters the final say, the report recommends it should be a binary choice between staying in the EU and whatever the government is proposing. If there’s no deal, the choice should be between staying and leaving the EU without a deal. If there’s a deal, it should be a choice between staying and leaving with the deal May has negotiated.

The report, which has been written for the People’s Vote campaign, does not rule out entirely a referendum with three options if it could command a majority in Parliament. But it says that, for reasons of simplicity, speed and clarity, as well as past experience, it is unlikely such a proposal would prevail.


The report, entitled The Roadmap to a People’s Vote, sets out six plausible routes to get such a vote:

  • If there’s a deal, MPs could amend the Parliamentary motion needed to back it, requiring the deal to be subject to a People’s Vote.
  • If MPs reject a deal or there’s no deal by January 21, the government has to present alternative plans to Parliament. MPs could then amend the motion approving those plans, making them subject to a People’s Vote.
  • Even if MPs support the motion to back the government’s deal, they could amend the legislation implementing it, making it conditional on approval by a People’s Vote.
  • The prime minister herself could decide to put her deal to the people either because MPs have rejected it or because she fears they will.
  • May could also decide to ask the people what to do if she is unable to secure a deal.
  • If there’s a snap election in the next few months, MPs could then legislate for a People’s Vote.

The report says yet more options may open up for MPs to force a People’s Vote, as events and possible chaos unfold. If a People’s Vote is not granted by Parliament, it will not be due to procedural impediments or a lack of time, but because MPs have chosen not to take these opportunities. After all, it is Parliament not the prime minister who is sovereign - and May is being undemocratic to suggest she can tell MPs what to do.


Graphic of the day

Just some of the results from the YouGov polling on newspaper readers and Brexit, on behalf of the People’s Vote campaign.

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No real progress on Irish border

Theresa May will get 10 minutes in Salzburg this evening to pitch her Chequers proposal to 27 other EU leaders, in the hope of going over the head of the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. She’s very unlikely to pull this off. The 27 give Barnier his orders, and Irish PM Leo Varadkar has already said he doesn’t expect “any change to the EU’s position or any change to our negotiating guidelines”.

So what about Northern Ireland? Barnier has now given more details of his offer to “de-dramatise” the Irish border. It would involve checking goods which cross from Great Britain to Northern Ireland at “company premises or at the markets”. But that still leaves Northern Ireland in a different regulatory regime to the rest of the UK - something the DUP, who prop up May in Parliament, refuse to accept. May looks set to return from Austria empty handed.

Video of the day

WATCH: Brexiters want us to crash over the Brexit line, even if that means a blindfold Brexit.

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Car chaos - even before Brexit

Brexit is already wreaking havoc in the UK’s car industry. BMW announced yesterday it will be shutting its Mini factory in Oxford for at least a month after “Brexit day” next March, in order to protect its operations from a potential no-deal crash out of the EU. This comes hot on the heels of Jaguar Land Rover announcing a cut back in production, moving the 3,000 workers at its Solihull plant to a three-day week, due to “continuing headwinds” for the car industry. Honda is also warning a no-deal Brexit would cost it “tens of millions” of pounds. All this before we’ve even left the EU. Then the damage caused to car companies’ supply chains could prove even more chaotic.

Quote of the day

"In terms of administration, we'd probably be looking at something like sixty odd thousand additional bits of documentation we would have to provide to get product to and from Europe.

"And clearly if we end up with World Trade Organization tariffs we'd have something like 10% costs in addition on our shipped product back into Europe, and that would certainly run into tens of millions of pounds.

"Likewise when we're looking at componentry coming the other way, again [it could cost] tens of millions in terms of tariffs coming into the UK."

Honda Europe boss Ian Howells, interviewed on the BBC's Wake up to Money programme

Tweet of the day

Another totally off-the-mark prediction from David Davis on how car manufacturers would play into the Brexit debate...

Choking on Brexit

Air pollution could be responsible for 60,000 cases of dementia in the UK, with a 40% increased risk if you live in a dirty area. The story leads both The Times and Mail today. Air pollution is a prime example of an issue which the EU is trying to clamp down on while the UK is being slow to act. In May the EU took the UK (and five other member states) to court for repeatedly breaching legal levels of pollution, saying the government had blown several “last chances” to make amends. The EU can force change from a UK government either unwilling or too distracted to clean up our air. No such protection will be available after Brexit.

Who's Marching?

WATCH: And hear why Emily is going to march on October 20. You can sign up and join her!

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More Brexit news…

No-deal Brexit 'could make policing harder' (BBC)

Business anger at ‘elitist’ plan to axe visas for lower-paid (Guardian)

Starmer ‘almost quit’ over Labour’s plans for Brexit (Guardian)

Brexit Has Made Wealthiest Brits Too Nervous to Invest Sustainably (Bloomberg)

Top Brexit comment

Hugo Dixon: It’s Brexit, not a People’s Vote, that will tear the country apart (New Statesman)

Justine Greening: May’s ‘do what I say’ tactics on Brexit are undemocratic (Times £)

Polly Toynbee: If Labour is serious about power it must back a people’s vote on Brexit (Guardian)

Looking forward...

Today, Wednesday 19th September

- Parliament in recess for conference season
- Theresa May in Salzburg to convince EU27 leaders of her Brexit strategy
09:30 ONS: Consumer price inflation
09:30 ONS: House prices

Tomorrow, Thursday 20th September

- Parliament in recess for conference season
- Theresa May in Salzburg to convince EU27 leaders of her Brexit strategy
09:30 ONS Publishes Retail Sales Statistics